Archive | Traditions RSS feed for this section

Chinese Wedding Planning – Return of the Bride

28 Jun

receipt cat 3 Days after the wedding ceremony, the newly wed are supposed to pay a visit to the bride’s family home. This is called 三朝回門, the return of the bride.

I believe traditionally this is when the bride can privately bitch about her new place in a safe environment. In modern time, it’s a gathering for both family to devour a giant roasted pig.

Here is what you need:

The Groom’s Gifts:

  1.  1 Roasted Pig : This roasted pig is a receipt of your virginity so it is of immense significance that it must be delivered whole. You maidenhood will taste delicious with mustard or hoi sin sauce.
  2. 2 bottles of wine
  3. 2 dozen cakes
  4. Fruit
roasted pig

No Refund, Store Credit Only. Not even that, Screw it.

The Bride’s family will need to return part of the Groom’s Gifts:

  1. Head, tail, feet and half of the Roasted Pig
  2. 1 bottle of wine
  3. 1 dozen cakes
  4. Fruits
  5. Cock, Hen and a few chicks
  6. 2 sugar canes and lettuce with roots.
roasted pig

Your maidenhood has never tasted better!

Check out my Chinese Wedding Tradition Series >>

Chinese Wedding Planning: Wedding Bed Installation

20 Jun
chinese wedding bed installation

photo from myweddingplanningtips

When my mom told me that we need to buy a new bed with a new mattress for the wedding I was in utter disbelieve. Mattress are expensive and out of our wedding budget. I would certainly love to have money to sleep on a King bed during our honeymoon than a bunkbed in a hostel. But WTF asides, apparently, a brand new bed is important in the Wedding Bed Installation (安床) process.

Things you’ll need:

  1. A good luck man ( married man with children – can be your dad)
  2. A good luck woman (married woman with children – can be your mom)
  3. Dates, lychee, longans, red and green beans
  4. Red Envelop
  5. A kid
  6. New bedding set ( with dragon and phoenix, double happiness or pairs of mandarin ducks pattern. At the very least, it needs to be red)
  7. New bed with new mattress

On auspicious day, a “good luck man” will move your new bed in your new bedroom. A good luck woman will make the bed for you and scattered it with dates, dried longans, lychee, red and green beans and red envelope. Nobody touch this new bed until the newly wed enter the room first.

honey, can you get this thing outta our bed?

The newly wed will enter the room after the banquet. Before everyone awkwardly leave you alone to have sex, kids can enter the room, sit and play on the bed 壓床 to symbolize fertility.

Traditionally wedding guests will have a little post-wedding party in this room for good luck. In modern time, any friends and family with human decency should GTFO to avoid years of bad karma for cockblocking.

Already know this? Check out the entire Chinese Wedding Tradition Series>>

Chinese Wedding Planning: Dowry

9 Jun

Dowry 嫁妝 is typically delivered 1 month before the Tea Ceremony. Some family would deliver the Dowry along with the Return of Betrothal Gifts.

Back in the day when the woman owns nothing of the husband’s, her Dowry will be her only possessions as a married woman. It is also a gift from the bride’s family to the newly weds. The abundance of it will reflect the worth of the bride and her value within her own family. Even my mom cares about what jewelries she should include in my Dowry.

Dowry traditionally includes

chinese wedding tradition A Toilet 子孫桶 – I kid you not, you need to deliver a toilet. Inside this “Toilet”, you should find gold coins strung together with a red thread,  Cyress and Red Envelop. While it may actually be a good excuse to get your dad to buy you a Bidet, modern couple usually make do with a Spittoon 痰盂. Time to get your vintage on.

Bowls and Chopsticks:  2 pairs of bowls and chopstickes tied together with a red string.This symbolizes the abundance of food to come.

Set of New Bedding: Bed sheets, pillow cases and comforter. They need to have embroidery of either dragon and phoenix, double happiness or pairs of Mandarin Ducks. If these aren’t available, they need to at least be red.

Scissors and rulers: No, this is not a preparation for future infidelity. The scissors represents a duality while the rulers is symbolic of estates, which used to be measured by ruler.

Wallets and a Sash: This symbolizes moolah — having money around your waist 腰缠万贯.

Brass Basin and Shoes:  Pure randomness — this is a phonatic symbolism for growing old together 同偕白首.

Pieces of Raw Sugar, to represent sweetness.

Tea Supplies like tea tray, tea pot and tea cups.

New clothes with cypress, lotus seeds, longans and red envelop tucked into pockets.

chinese wedding gold bangles

photo from

Jewelries from the Bridal Family. Typically involves at least one pair of Gold Bangles from the bride’s parents if not more from other relatives from the bride’s side.  They should be offered and worn immediately at the bridal part of the Tea Ceremony.









Already know this? Check out the entire Chinese Wedding Tradition Series>>

Chinese Wedding Planning: Betrothal Gifts, Bride Price and Returns of Gifts

8 Jun
betrothal gifts box chinese wedding

photo from nileeysphere

The content of Betrothal Gifts and the amount of Bride Price should be agreed by both parents early in the wedding planning. Well, don’t ask my opinion on this Bride Price thing because I’m just going to launch into a feminist rant. I digressed.

About 1 month before the Tea Ceremony, on an auspicious day, Betrothal Gifts are traditionally delivered from the groom to the bride. Depending on how traditional your parents are, finding Betrothal Gifts is no shopping at Costco.

Betrothal gifts includes:

  1. Wedding Pastries – 2 pairs of Dragon and Phoenix Wedding Cake, one for the bride, one for the groom. Add other even numbers of wedding pastries from a total of 4,6 to 8. See more here
  2. Coconuts – 2 pairs of Coconuts. (It has to do with a phonetic symbol for child bearing)
  3. Tea leaves
  4. 2 pairs of betel nuts 檳榔. ( Good luck finding that in North America, try asking Taiwanese or Southeast Asian stores)
  5. 3 Animals – 2 pairs of Chicken or Geese (2 males, 2 females). Pork ( chopped open in halves but connected at the bone). A pair of fish (It must be a pair of whole, big fish. Don’t do canned Sardine and absolutely no fillets! Your Mother In Law won’t be amused)
  6. 4 types of Dried Seafood – High Roller Option: Dried Abalone, Sea Cucumber, SharkFin, Fish Maw, Scallops. Ghetto Option: Dried Squid, shrimp, Shitake Mushrooms, oysters. Both options must include Fat Choy 髮菜. Yes, you gotta put the Fat Choy in the Gong Hei Fat Choi here. There is no human English translation for Fat Choy but “Nostoc flagelliforme”. No, this is not a new vampire name.
  7. 4 types of nutsLotus Seeds, Lily Bulbs, Dates, Longans, Lychee, walnuts or peanuts. (These are pretty much all symbolic of child bearing.)
  8. Gift Box – A layered gift box that is big enough to contain all of the above. Then throw in more lotus seeds, lotus roots, Kadsura Pepper Stem 青蔞 ( yup, google this), cypress (扁柏)Betel nuts, sesame seeds, red beans, green beans, a red string, betrothal jewelries, cigarette, bottles of brandy, pairs of tangerines, 2 pairs of dragon and phoenix candles, a pair of wedding couplet 喜联 and the Bride Price in red envelope.

Want to see how these things look like, a wedding blog called YoursMoment has an awesome montage for this. See it here.

*How much should the Bride Price be?

There is really no set answer and it depends on how the bride’s family interpret this amount. From what I heard in Hong Kong, the market price ( again, don’t ask ) for Brides now is about $7000 USD. A common sense measure will be to offer amount that contains a combination of lucky numbers like 3, 6, 8, 9. An alternative will be a smaller amount like $500-$1000 just for tradition sake. Afterall, however symbolic, who wants to a price tag on a girl?

Bride’s Returns of Betrothal Gifts

photo from

If I could return everything and pretend nothing has ever happened, I would. However, a Chinese Wedding is not gonna let you out easy. After the Groom’s family scouted out the above items, the bride will return another set of gifts back to the groom’s family to symbolically express that the groom ” had been too generous” and the bride’s family ” is not greedy”.

Sometimes this is offered a few days after the delivery of the betrothal gifts. Some family offered the returns of gifts along with the Dowry at a later day.

Traditionally the Returns Gifts includes:

  1. Half of the Bride Price. The amount must be even number
  2. Tea Leaves, Fruits
  3. 1 pair of Taros, Lotus Roots, Pomegranates
  4. Towels 賀帷巾
  5. Gifts for the groom like clothes, belts, wallets, a pair of shoes and 2 pairs of socks. At the very least, the shoes.
  6. 1 betel nut
  7. Other pastries like fried rice ball (煎堆) and Chinese Sponge Cake (鬆糕).
Again, YourMoment’s awesome montage will help you visualize these.
Check out the other articles in my Chinese Wedding Tradition Series >>

Chinese Wedding Planning: Tea Ceremony Demystified

26 May

Part 1: The Groom’s Procession to Obtain the Bride

You’ll need:

  • Creative bridesmaid and props for Door Tests
  • Door Open Red Envelope with money
  • Tea Ceremony Set Up
you shall not pass sign

photo from

With a bouquet, the Groom will lead the procession to the bride’s house with his groomsmen. Upon arriving at the bride’s house, the Groom’s party will face a series of “tests” from the bridesmaids before he can enter the lady’s chamber. That will typically entails some physical tests, embarrassing games, blatant declaration of love, mostly to entertain the bridal party but traditionally to demonstrate the Groom’s dedication. Of course after all that, you still SHALL NOT PASS without giving the bridesmaids an ” Door Open Red Envelope” which should contains a lucky amount of money (think permutation of 3, 6, 8, 9). With sufficient cash to bribe the lady bouncers, the bridesmaid will open up the door to the brides chamber.

Once the bridal chamber is opened, you can’t make out yet. The maid of honor will lead the bride to her father and the father of the bride will hand over the bride to the groom. This is when the Bridal Tea Ceremony begins.

The Couple will bow to heaven and then to the ancestors. Maid of honor should prepare tea for the couple as they kneel and offer tea to the bride’s parents.

Bridesmaids are supposed to return 10-50% of the Door Price to the Groomsmen and serve the guys with tea and snacks.

Check out Door Test ideas ranging from creative to the absolutely merciless>>

Part 2: The Bride’s Journey to the Groom’s House

You’ll need:

  • red parasol
  • rice, red and green beans

The ‘good luck woman’ or the maid of honor will shield the bride with a red parasol while the bridal party toss rice, red and green beans, which symbolizes fertility, to the parasol and traditionally, at the sedan chair.

jack black sedan chair

photo from Event Prop Hire

At the lucky hour, the bride will be carried on the back of a good luck woman to the sedan chair. Great care was taken not to let the bride’s feet touch the floor, which is considered an unauspicious thing to do.

Modern woman should never be carried on the back of another woman 2 times her age and sedan chair are for photo-whore tourists only. In that case, just get in the car already, by yourself, with your own feet.

The procession accompanying the bride must consist of only female and the bride’s brother must not follow her to the groom’s house.

Part 3: Arriving at the Groom’s House

you’ll need:

  • Tea Ceremony Set Up
  • Red Envelopes
  • Blings
  • 9 courses lunch #hellyeah

The couple arrive at the Groom’s House. The Groom’s parents will welcome the couple. The Groom’s Tea Ceremony begins.

gold bracelet chinese weddingThe couple bow to heaven, then to ancestors. They then kneel and offer tea to the Groom’s parents. The Groom’s parents are expected to bless the couple and give them red envelops.They will then deck the bride our with blings – gold jewelries ftw. The bride must wear them all at once to show gratitude. The couple then offer tea to other elders in the house.

The couple + wedding party is expected to have lunch with the Groom’s family. I don’t see this happening much because typically you should be out the door checking up on the venue or taking first look photos. Anyway, traditionally this lunch will consist of 9 dishes, which phonetically symbolizes Eternity.

Check out the other articles in my Chinese Wedding Tradition Series >>

28 Knee Length Modern QiPao or Cheongsam for Chinese Wedding

26 May

So the Qipao hunt begins! Considering that I’m short and determined not to wear high heels at my wedding, I’m in search for a Qipao that will give me legs – knee length.

I came up with a few options:

  1. Going to stores in the Chinese neighborhood
  2. Asking my mom in Hong Kong to buy for me with only my measurements
  3. My native habitat – the Interwebz

So I found 28 gorgeous knee length Qipaos that are modern and short-people friendly for $60- $250. All of these stores offer custom made option. (Why 28? Go ask a Chinese person)


Red floral Chinese wedding Dress Cheongsam qipao

photo from


peony emboidered silk chinese wedding dress knee length cheongsam qipao
photo from


red plain silk brocade cheongsam chinese wedding dress qipao

photo from


Red Peony silk chinese wedding dress knee length cheongsam qipao

photo from


red floral brocade knee length cheongsam chinese wedding dress qipao

photo from


peony emboidered silk knee length cheongsam qipao chinese wedding dress

photo from


plain red rose brocade chinese wedding dress qipao cheongsam knee length

photo frpm


red silk long sleeve knee length cheongsam qipao chinese wedding dress

photo from


hot pink silk chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao knee length

photo from


red and black silk sleave less knee length cheongsam qipao chinese wedding dress

photo from


red phoenix silk red knee length qipao chinese wedding dress cheongsam

photo from


red chinese wedding dress qipao cheongsam knee length

photo from


asymmetrical chinese qipao cheongsam wedding dress knee length

photo from


red silk cut out chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao knee length

photo from


gold red silk chinese cheongsam qipao wedding dress knee length

photo from


red chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao knee length

photo from


silk emboidered red chinese wedding dress knee length cheongsam qipao

photo from


red knee length chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao

photo from


red long sleeve knee length chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao

photo from


red knee length chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao

photo from


red knee length chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao

photo from


red knee length chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao

photo from


red knee length chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao

photo from


red knee length chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao

photo from


red knee length chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao

photo from


red knee length chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao

photo from


red knee length chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao

photo from


red knee length chinese wedding dress cheongsam qipao

photo from

*Tips for buying from Chinese clothing companies:

  • Research these company carefully and read customers reviews.
  • Their definition of customer service is not the same as yours (meaning, you are not a priority of their existence).
  • Wait
  • Be Prepared to take your dress to a local tailor for alteration anyway.

Chinese Wedding Planning: Wedding Pastry Cards (餅卡)

21 Mar

chinese wedding pastries

During the second wedding-related phone calls with my mom, she brought up ” well, there isn’t much for us to do in Toronto but at least we will need Cake Cards (餅卡) for folks in Hong Kong.” I heard about Wedding Pastries Card (餅卡) and grew up loving Chinese wedding pastries because they are fatty, decadent, awesome and guess what? free! It’s like instead of making you sit through stupid games in a bridal shower, the bride actually give you a free Groupon for…doing nothing! But when it comes to my own Wedding Pastry Card (餅卡) preparation, I can’t help but wonder, WTF is that?

So I dug a little be around the interwebz. Here is according to Karena from– a Hong Kong wedding site, where Wedding Pastries came from and why: ( Can I just say Google Translation is the best thing ever!)

Chinese wedding pastries

Traditional Wedding Pastries

Wedding Pastry is a traditional gift of Chinese wedding customs.  The Cantonese call it “married woman cake (嫁女餅).” The bridal party buys the pastries before the wedding , distributes to friends and family to begin the festivity, and also to officially announced the wedding.

Origin of “married women cake

It started from the era of the Three Kingdoms in China.  Strategist Zhu-ge Liang arranged General Liu Bei, to marry the sister of  Sun Quan, the ruler.  To convey the good news, wedding pastries were made to be delivered to Sun Quan’s subordinates. Since then, delivering wedding pastries become a custom of Chinese marriage.

According to Chinese tradition, wedding cake is treated seriously to show the importance of the wedding and the formality of the ceremony.

The groom will send the wedding pastries as part of the wedding gift, and the bridal party will distribute them to friends and family to announce the good news.

The number of each pastries gift is determined by the closeness of the friend and seniority of the family member. It is typically arranged as pack of 4, 6, or 8 — even numbers that signifies “a pair“.


There are about 30-40 types of Chinese Wedding Pastries.  For Example:

Colorful preserved eggs pastry

Duck egg lotus seed paste pastry

Red lotus seed paste pastry

Yellow green been paste pastry

[Use your imagination]
Duck egg lotus seed paste cake

Duck egg pastry


Since its more common to give western style cakes nowadays, there is no need to send a traditional Dan (i.e. 400) as traditional cakes. Typically, an 8 pack will be good enough symbolically for the Groom’s gifting ceremony. Set aside 2 pairs of pastries as the “Dragon and Phoenix Cakes” for the wedding party, the others can be presented as vouchers from Chinese or western bakeries. Find out where to get Chinese Wedding Pastries in the US, click here.

Check out the entire Chinese Wedding Tradition Series >>








現時的中式 禮餅有三、四十款之多,最受歡迎的有:

– 五彩皮蛋酥
– 蛋黃蓮蓉酥
– 紅綾蓮蓉酥
– 黃綾荳蓉酥
– 欖仁合桃酥
– 蛋黃蓮蓉雞蛋糕
– 雞油蛋黃酥


由於現多派西餅,故無須派一擔(即 400個)傳統喜餅之多。過禮時只須象徵式帶來8個便足夠,以代表心意。其中需準備 龍鳳禮餅兩對,其他以唐餅卡及西餅卡代替即可。


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.